While the Cuban state adopted ‘scientific atheism’ as the official doctrine in the 1976 constitution, in practice it is hard to find many Cubans who don’t believe in ‘something’. This something may be God Almighty, the saints and virgins of the Catholic Church, the many deities of African religion, or a number of superstitions and rituals. In short Cuba’s religious beliefs may be something of an ajiaco (stew), but they certainly have faith (fe).
The third visit of a Pope to Cuba within seventeen years certainly has highlighted the important role of the Catholic Church in Cuba and comes at a time where the popular Pope Frances and the Catholic Church more generally has played an important role in the normalization of relations between Cuba and the US.
While it is fair to say that Conner Gorry has never been a particular fan of the Catholic Church her insightful piece on Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba in 2012 did highlight the somewhat underwhelming nature of his visit. This time it promises to be different, not only is Pope Frances from Latin America but his message of support for the oppressed, criticism of the neoliberal policies, vanity and greed and general demeanor is likely to resonate strongly with the Cuban population and promises to be a major event.
We have also included A stroll among some of Havana’s most beautiful churches by Ricardo Alberto Perez as well as a couple of articles on La Virgen de la Caridad and the pilgrimage of Our Lady of Regla. Recognizing the importance of other religious beliefs Lydia Bell Unlocks the secrets of the Saints in Cuba, Ricardo Alberto Perez has a conversation with a Santero and looks in another piece at the role of the Sea and Rivers in Cuban religious beliefs.
If none of this is your thing then September is a beautiful month to visit Cuba (as long as you are willing to take the risk of a hurricane appearing to disrupt your plans). Gone are the mad tourist crowds of the peak summer season, rooms are reasonably prices and restaurants easy to get into. The weather is hot but without the sweltering temperatures of summer, the sea is warm but not pea soup style, it refreshes. There remains a buzz on the street, a spring in the step and a party around every corner. In short a great time to come and see what’s going on in this intriguing Caribbean nation.
The LaHabana.com Team, LaHabana.com